New Transport Secretary: Speeding kills, and road safety is my priority

Plans to increase M-way speed limits will be subject to safety considerations

by Sarah Barth   September 17, 2012  

20mph zone picture IAM.jpg

The new Transport Secretary has said that road safety concerns, far more than traffic flow, will influence his decisions to change the law on speed limits in the UK.

Patrick McLoughlin, an ex-miner who took over in the role from Justine Greening earlier this month, said that accidents happen when people break the speed limit.

He told Sky News: "What we have to have in our mind is that speed does kill and most of the very serious accidents that take place on our roads involve people disobeying the speed limits."

"What's very important is that we never lose sight about the issue of safety on our roads," he told the Murnaghan programme.

"First and foremost in my mind will be road safety, but I will look at the evidence - there's a consultation taking place on that.

"But nothing will detract me from what is safe overall, and road safety and our record on road safety has to be paramount in my mind.

While the speed limit proposals currently under consideration relate to the 70mph limit on motorways, these comments might hint at tougher regulations across the country, and partilcularly in 20mph urban zones that have not always been enforced.

Chris Peck, of the CTC, told Road.cc that the organisation welcomed the news.

"It’s encouraging that the new Secretary of State is committed to improving road safety and has correctly identified that speed is the crucial element in so many collisions," he said.

"This year saw the first increase in casualties for all road users, including a worrying increase in the risk (per mile travelled) of cycling.

"Tackling speeding and other poor driving practices can make a major difference to improving cycle safety. However, CTC recently discovered that the number of traffic officers has fallen by 30% over the last ten years – road safety won’t improve until proper enforcement takes place, using both cameras and uniformed officers.”

16 user comments

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I think you might have missed the word "police" or "officers" from Chris Peck's quote in the last paragraph (after the word "traffic").

Shay

posted by shay cycles [258 posts]
17th September 2012 - 12:29

4 Likes

AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

Speed does not kill. Speed limits do not (by themselves) improve safety. Speed enforcement is not the answer.

Poor driving kills, but poor driving cannot be identified by number on a stick or policed by a yellow box.

posted by Mr Will [91 posts]
17th September 2012 - 13:37

7 Likes

I'm in pedantic mood so I'll agree that speed doesn't kill neither does poor driving.

It is the drivers that kill.

Having said that they are more likely to kill when driving too fast, when not concentrating and when making inappropriate manouvres.

As you can't rely on drivers always understanding what is an appropriate speed, for the circumstances they are driving in, then we need speed limits. Enforcing those limits properly does reduce the likelihood of the drivers becoming killers and of others becoming victims. Speed enforcement is not the answer but it is part of the answer, especially if done properly.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [258 posts]
17th September 2012 - 13:52

4 Likes

When two road users collide, it is because one or both didn't have the time to take evasive action. The probability of a fatality increases dramatically at speeds in excess of 20 mph – isn't the stat 80% survival chance at 20 mph and only 20% chance of survival at 30 mph and above?

Therefore, lower speeds for complicated/busy urban roads has to be part of the answer.

We know that when we cycle at 15 mph in a 30 mph limit, we almost always catch up with the same cars at the next junction. So what's the point in letting them accelerate to 30 mph when going at 20 mph wouldn't add to their journey time but would make conditions safer for pedestrians, cyclists and all other vulnerable road users?

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
17th September 2012 - 14:19

3 Likes

if we are being really pedantic, you are totally correct in saying that speed doesnt kill. rather its the force generated at impact that kills.

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [383 posts]
17th September 2012 - 15:50

3 Likes

Speed bloody well does kill. The faster you go, the less-avoidable collisions are, the bigger the mess and much more fatal the likely outcome.

You all know the science behind impact survivability, E = M x V squared. Double the speed, quadruple the force yadda yadda...

Lower speed limits and bloody harsh enforcement are absolutely the answer, until we get Dutch-style self-enforcing behaviour-changing infrastructure.

The only people objecting to lower limits in urban areas have to be those who don't like the idea of being asked to slow down around kids, cyclists and pedestrians. Black & white.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [631 posts]
17th September 2012 - 15:56

2 Likes

Poor driving at 70mph is a lot more serious than poor driving at 20mph. Speeding may not cause accidents, but it makes them a lot worse.

It's like driving around with a boot full of high explosives. You are no more likely to have a crash, but the consequences will be worsened.

posted by SpamSpamSpam [20 posts]
17th September 2012 - 16:34

4 Likes

I don't drive daily, as I cycle commute. However, this "speed kills" stuff is counter-productively simplistic.

Its worst effect is that it encourages absolutism and seems to result in much of the focus on speeding being on the numerically highest infringements. It leads to ridiculous situations where much is made of drivers who do 100+ mph on motorway grade roads, and where a lot of the enforcement focuses on these motorways and fast, two-lane dual-carriageways (which are all but motorways). Yet pretty much nothing is done about the incredible number of drivers doing 40mph in dense urban areas.

100 mph on a 70 mph motorway, and 40 mph in a 30 mph zone are, in terms of proportionate speed and energy excess, identical transgressions. However, the motorway is a far safer road, the transgression is less likely to affect anyone. The 30 mph road is much riskier, likely to have pedestrians, cyclists and children. Even if no accident occurs, just the presence of the speeding motorist makes the road feel much more dangerous and less pleasant to the non-motorised road users.

We need to start focusing enforcement on the roads where it makes the most difference - the *slower* roads, the roads where non-motorised traffic is common. To do this we need to stop caring so much about absolute speeds. We need to start treating the "10 mph over in a 30 zone" offence as an equally serious offence as the "30 mph over on a 70 mph motorway", perhaps even as a more serious offence.

Statistically, few people die on motorways, and lots die on urban and sub-urban roads. The "speed kills" slogan misleadingly misdirects attention to the fast roads, IMO. The focus on speeds needs to be on the slower roads.

posted by Paul J [680 posts]
17th September 2012 - 17:02

6 Likes

I think a little perspective is necessary. Speed does not kill, impact can and does. Therefore 70 or 80 mph on a motorway works reasonably well (they are the safest roads, statiscally. Where 40mph on a residential road or shopping area in an urban setting is potentially disasterous. With all the IT available it should be possible and reasonable to have variable limits. For instance, 20mph in towns when peaks happen such as commuting periods, and that time when the kids leave school around 3pm, but reverting to 30mph when conditions are lifhter and it's possible to make safe progress slightly more quickly without endangering anyone. Blanket limits which are not seen to be relevant are the ones which are most often ignored and flouted.
There is no one size fits all answer. Like most problems, there is a solution which is simple, obvious, and usually wrong. And a solution which requires thought, consultation, consideration and a campaign to get buy-in to a way forward, and has a chance of success.
Now, which one is likely to work best?

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
17th September 2012 - 17:09

4 Likes

What is absolutely needed is much more enforcement. What really discourages people from breaking rules is not the severity of punishment, but the likelihood of being caught.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
17th September 2012 - 23:02

5 Likes

Enforcement is the key. Another Transport Secretary, another set of claims that will not be met by someone who will be shifted into another role within 12 months. Will the police get the investment required for the staffing to allow the enforcement that is needed? Umm, no. Will there be a concerted road safety awareness effort to highlight the risks to vulnerable road users (cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians) posed by inattentive and aggressive driving? Will there be a campaign of tackling the cause of accidents, bad driving, rather than trying to apply a sticking plaster over the effects and blaming the victim by suggesting that high viz or helmet use would save lives? No, I doubt it.

Like I said, another minister, another set of grandiose claims. I give him 12 months at most.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
18th September 2012 - 8:00

7 Likes

Mr Will wrote:
AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

Speed does not kill. Speed limits do not (by themselves) improve safety. Speed enforcement is not the answer.

Poor driving kills, but poor driving cannot be identified by number on a stick or policed by a yellow box.

Someone who can't perform the relatively simple task of maintaining a speed appropriate to the conditions & law affecting the road they're driving on is unlikely to be a "good" driver though, surely?

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [423 posts]
18th September 2012 - 8:07

3 Likes

Is it not about time that we ended the debate about whether speed kills or not?

In some cases, speed will be a main contributory factor to an accident - in others it will not.

For those interested in why there's another debate (about speed cameras), read helen Wells:

http://readinglists.brunel.ac.uk/items/C14EC5D3-4A3B-B7EC-890A-6DF8667C7...

... and for those interested in more socially acceptable means of top speed control, go to the presentations listed in the column on the right hand side of the page:

http://www.ice.org.uk/nearyou/UK-Regions/Scotland/Specialist-Areas/Munic...

under the heading "ISA Speed Management 30 March 2012".

Automatic detedtion and prosecution is NOT the answer. Intelligent Speed Adaptation may be ... or shall we wait for the non-colliding vehicle?

posted by Andrew Fraser [3 posts]
18th September 2012 - 12:03

4 Likes

Mr Will wrote:
AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

Speed does not kill. Speed limits do not (by themselves) improve safety. Speed enforcement is not the answer.

Poor driving kills, but poor driving cannot be identified by number on a stick or policed by a yellow box.

Cobblers! Sorry Will but it is. Inadequate reaction time is a major factor in 60% of crashes and inadequate reaction time is caused primarily by exceeding the speed limit. You're right: speeding isn't the only factor - but it is the major factor. It is so blindingly obvious arguing otherwise is akin to suggesting that cigarettes are good for us and driving without a seat belt offers no extra risk.

The 20 is Plenty Campaign now has 8.4 million supporters so speed reduction is coming whether you think it helps or not. The beauty of a 20 mph speed limit is that once 20% of drivers start driving at 20mph then everyone else has to as well. Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1093 posts]
18th September 2012 - 17:52

4 Likes

Mr Will wrote:
AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!
Speed does not kill...

Jeremy, Jeremy, is that you ?

posted by zoxed [63 posts]
19th September 2012 - 8:36

4 Likes

KiwiMike wrote:
Speed bloody well does kill. The faster you go, the less-avoidable collisions are, the bigger the mess and much more fatal the likely outcome.

You all know the science behind impact survivability, E = M x V squared. Double the speed, quadruple the force yadda yadda...

Lower speed limits and bloody harsh enforcement are absolutely the answer, until we get Dutch-style self-enforcing behaviour-changing infrastructure.

The only people objecting to lower limits in urban areas have to be those who don't like the idea of being asked to slow down around kids, cyclists and pedestrians. Black & white.

Agree with your post, but I have to inform you there is a constant of 0.5 missing from your equation there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_energy#Newtonian_kinetic_energy Nerd

Dedicated cycling price comparison | http://www.leadoutbikes.com

posted by mckechan [198 posts]
19th September 2012 - 15:20

5 Likes